HOOVER, Ala. — Marcell Harris is no stranger to quarterback competitions.
Heading into his fifth year at Florida, the senior safety has seen a few “crazy” battles play out in the summer and fall months. Another QB race will take place next month in preseason camp, but this one has a different feel.
The competition features 2016 starter Luke Del Rio and electric true freshman Kadarius Toney. The starting job, however, will likely come down to graduate transfer Malik Zaire and Feleipe Franks, who beat out fellow redshirt freshman Kyle Trask in the spring.
With the addition of signee Jake Allen, there’s six quarterbacks on the roster and one ball.
“Everybody wants it,” Harris said. “Every day you can tell that those guys are watching film and getting better. From Feleipe to Malik to Trask to Kadarius, you can feel the competition level.”
Senior cornerback Duke Dawson feels it as well, from weight room sessions to player-run workouts on the practice field. He thinks the competition between Franks and Zaire has not only been healthy, but needed.
“Me personally, I’m comfortable with either one of those guys,” Dawson said. “Those guys are fighting day in and day out. They’re competing every day with not only themselves, but with each other. That is what we need on our team.”
Junior left tackle Martez Ivey believes the Gators are a quarterback away from being a championship contender. No matter who starts this season, Ivey expects Florida to be successful on offense in 2017.
“You’ve seen it in spurts,” Ivey said, referring to the Kentucky game and Florida’s first-half performance at Tennessee. “If our quarterback is playing well, I can’t name many people that will stop us. We’re loaded this year with wide receivers, running backs, our O-line and quarterbacks.”
The supporting cast around Franks or Zaire will be Florida’s best offensive personnel in a few years. As much as he’s looking forward to the QB battle, Harris wants to see a starter emerge quickly so the players and fans can rally around him.
“That guy under center he has to be the leader of everything basically,” Harris said. “That’s what we are all looking for. He has to have the trust of the guys around him and the trust of the whole Gator Nation. It’s a big deal to be at QB. It’s not just a regular position.”